Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 1/6/14: Scofflaw

The word scofflaw, while often thought to be of ancient origin, was actually created through a contest held in 1921. A wealthy banker in Quincy, MA sponsored a contest offering $200 to anyone who coined a word to describe people who violated … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 12/9/13: The CSI Effect

The so-called CSI Effect–named after the hit t.v. show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its progeny–refers to the theory that these shows have an impact on real juries in criminal cases. In them, highly-trained lab specialists with limitless budgets and the … Continue reading

‘To shudder at the bare recital of those acts’: Child Abuse, Family, and Montreal Courts in the Early Nineteenth Century

‘To shudder at the bare recital of those acts‘: Child Abuse, Family, and Montreal Courts in the Early Nineteenth Century, in G. Blaine Baker and Donald Fyson, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law, vol. XI, Quebec and the Canadas … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 11/25/13: Suing Satan!

In 1971 a plaintiff filed a pauper’s suit in U.S. District Court, on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated, against Satan and his servants. Plaintiff alleged that Satan had “threatened him, caused him misery, impeded his course in … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 11/11/13: Vermont’s Only Capital Crime

While Vermont abolished the death penalty in 1965, it still has one capital crime on the books: treason. Vermont law states that “[a] person owing allegiance to this state, who levies war or conspires to levy war against the same, … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/28/13: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Under Massachusetts law, gift certificates must remain valid for a minimum of seven years. They are required to have an expiry and issuance date specified on them (or, in the case of electronic gift cards, this must be on the … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/14/13: Good Samaritan Laws

Good Samaritan laws, often confused with duty to rescue laws, provide immunity against tort claims for those who attempt to rescue someone in peril.  In general, however, these laws provide immunity if the peril was imminent, if the rescuer obtained consent, … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/30/13: The Castle Doctrine and ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

The George Zimmerman case shone a spotlight on Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law, an extension of the “castle doctrine” which is an ancient common law concept that a homeowner has no duty to retreat when threatened within his or her home by a third party. The … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/16/13: The Crime of Arson

Under the common law, originally there were only two felonies related to injuries to a home. The first was the criminal invasion of a home, or burglary (originally known as “house breach”), while the more serious of the two involved … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/9/13: The ‘Public Benefit’ Corporation

In addition to the standard for-profit and limited-liability model of the traditional corporation, other variants exist. A public-benefit corporation is state-chartered and designed  to perform some public benefit, such as the MBTA and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. A B Corporation is a corporation … Continue reading

Organ Donor Trusts and Durable Powers of Attorney for Organ Donation: New Twists on the Living Trust and Living Will

My first legal publication, written as a student note for the Probate Law Journal in 1995, this article discussed two theoretical vehicles for promoting organ donation: the creation of a inter vivos organ trust, modeled after a pour-over trust or … Continue reading